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CBS’ Owned Stations Pitch in with National Newscasts

With CBS News’ home base in New York closed due to coronavirus, CBS’ owned stations are helping get the national newscasts out to viewers. The weekend of March 21-22, CBS Weekend News will be produced out of Dallas, with KTVT staffers filling key roles in the production. 

KCBS Los Angeles hosted CBS’ evening newscast March 14-15, with local anchor DeMarco Morgan anchoring.

Norah O’Donnell anchors CBS Evening News in Washington during the week. With CBS News’ DC bureau doing double duty amidst the coronavirus situation, DC staffers get a chance to breathe on the weekend as station staffers fill in.

KCBS and KTVT have secondary studios and control rooms. CBS Weekend News March 21-22 will be directed and line-produced by KTVT staffers, and KTVT anchor Doug Dunbar will helm the newscast.

CBS News producer Craig Wilson will stack the program and run the lineup from his home in New York. CBS News writers, also working from home, will handle the copy.

The pieces will be edited by CBS News editors working remotely. KTVT editors and CBS News staffers based in the Dallas bureau will also assist.

“Our owned and operated stations and affiliates are talented and focused journalists and technicians, just as we are,” said Kimberly Godwin, CBS executive VP of news. “They understand the absolute need for us to be on the air as a source of reliable, trusted and calm information to our national viewers, just as they are to their local viewers.”

KCBS has also provided anchors, facilities and technical support to WCBS New York, whose staffers can’t work out of the Broadcast Center. WCBS anchors have opened the newscasts from outside the Broadcast Center, and a KCBS anchor tosses to WCBS reporters in the field in New York. KCBS is handling the control room.

On March 20, WCBS did its 5 p.m. news out of YES Network studios in Stamford. 

Peter Dunn, president of CBS Television Stations, said his station staffers are happy to help each other, and the network. “These are unprecedented times and the challenges we face at home and work are daunting,” he said. “However, I am very encouraged by the heart, intelligence and creativity being shown by our people. We are truly blessed to have so many smart and resourceful people who are rising to the occasion and helping us continue to serve our viewers and also support our colleagues.”

CBS This Morning has been operating out of the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown Manhattan, where Stephen Colbert usually hosts The Late Show. Late Show is on hiatus.

CTM out of the Colbert studio looked terrific,” Godwin said in an editorial meeting this week. “Once again, we provided such a strong show for our viewers: the information, the tone, the pieces and the guests from all around the country captured the human spirit.”

Streaming news network CBSN has also relied on partner stations with CBS Broadcast Center closed. CBS News set up what one insider called “a portable control room” that could be operated remotely.

CBSN has local units in Boston, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Pittsburgh and Denver.

WBZ Boston and KPIX San Francisco are supporting CBSN’s national feed.

“It has been like remotely conducting an orchestra of principal musicians,” said Godwin of the news division handling the crisis. “Everyone knows what they’re doing and has studied the music. You hope you sound good when you’re suddenly thrust together to play. This orchestra has overcome incredible hurdles to make great music.”

Michael Malone
Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.